Some of the insects are a happy site in your garden like the ladybug beetles. It is a welcome sign when you spot these insects in your garden. Ladybug Beetles are voracious eaters of aphids and are there to keep the population under control. They are there to help.

On the contrary many other insects are not good for your garden and you must worry if you spot them. For instance , the pesky inchworms that could even invade residential landscapes.

There is more than one type of inchworm inching around right now. There are spring cankerworms, oak cankerworms and Linden loopers. They are all about the same size — about an inch or so long — but they vary in color.

Inchworms generally arrive in hordes for three to five years in a row. They may also take a break and be present in lower numbers for the next couple of years.

Inchworms are easily distinguished by the looping motion they make when they move. These types of insects arch their midsections when they move, allowing their hind prolegs to meet up with their anterior true legs. In other words, they do not have legs all along their bodies.

These inchworms are the larval stages of moths. For some species, the female moth is wingless. She walks up the trunk of a tree in late winter. The winged male moth flies to her. The female then lays eggs within the bark.

In species such as the Linden looper, the female has wings. She flies to the trees and waits on the male, before laying eggs.

The eggs hatch about the time the leaves come out. All of these caterpillars have something in common: They love to eat. When present in high numbers, you can actually hear the munching of the insects.

The diet of the cankerworms is quite diverse, but all consisting of deciduous trees. Host species attacked by Linden loopers include red and white oak, maple, elm, hickory, ash and cherry. Spring cankerworms feed on trees such as apple, beech, hickory, maple and oak.

You may first notice small holes in young leaves. As the larvae become bigger, their appetites increase, and leaves may become skeletonized — the same type of damage caused by Japanese beetles.

Along with the noise, you may also encounter the excrement of the insects, which can become quite messy.

On a positive note, the timing of leaf-eating couldn’t be better. It is very early, and defoliated trees will recover quickly. Fertilizing landscape trees can help with new growth.

These cankerworms do not remain for a long period. They will eat for several weeks, then they will drop to the ground on silk strands. There, they will burrow into the ground and spin silken cocoons. They will remain there until they emerge in late winter as adults.

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